Back to the Basics – Chambray and Twill


When it comes to apparel fabric, there’s nothing more fun than playing around with unique fabric prints and blends, but there’s something to be said about those classic natural fabrics too, such as cotton twill and chambray.  As I slowly replace my worn-out ready-to-wear clothing with handmade items, I’ve been trying to utilize similar fabrics, and I’m having no problem finding what I need in Cali Fabric’s impressive apparel fabric selection.  After combing through all of their twill and chambray, I selected two that I’m absolutely smitten with and sharing with you today!

You will undoubtedly recognize the  cropped pants pattern as Lander Pants from True Bias, and to me there’s nothing like having the perfect pair of black trousers in your closet.  Twill is excellent as a bottom weight fabric because of its durability and comfort, and you’ll find plenty of ready-to-wear pants made from it.  The tell tale sign is the diagonal pattern you see in twill’s weave.

twill weave

I fell in love with this Black Fine Midweight Cotton Twill as soon as I pulled it out of the dryer.  Twill has the benefit of not really wrinkling, and whatever minor wrinkles you may see at first pretty much disappear by the time you put it on.  No one wants to spend time ironing their pants!  Also this specific midweight twill has become softer with each wash, making these my favorite pants already.

Twill isn’t a high maintenance fabric to sew with either, so it can be a great bottom weight fabric for those thinking about tackling their first pair of pants.  The only sewing machine changes I made was to slightly reduce my presser foot pressure, pop on a size 14/90 universal sewing needle, and increase my stitch length just a bit.  I also used a “hump jumper” I fashioned out of scrap twill for any of the thicker seams, as it helps my sewing machine get over those uneven thicknesses.  To be honest you could probably get away with just the needle size, but the other things make the process smoother.

Lander Pants

These twill pants are incredibly comfortable despite this fabric having zero stretch, there’s no stiffness at all, and I’m very impressed with the quality.  Unfortunately at the time of sewing and writing this, I’ve been noticing their available stock going down, and now there’s only 2 yards left!  They do have a variety of other twill fabrics but just be sure to note whether or not it has spandex/lycra which provides stretch; Cali’s fabric descriptions always include this info for you.


What goes perfectly with these higher waisted pants?  A cropped top in some gorgeously luminescent fabric!  This is the View Ridge top pattern from Straight Stitch Designs, and it works perfectly with Robert Kaufman’s ‘Greenwich’ Fine Chambray, a 100% cotton yarn dyed woven fabric that has the most beautiful, rich colors.  You can see the variation in colors below.


Although this brilliant green is out of stock, there are three other gorgeous colors available.  If I could pull off wearing red, I would have totally picked up this fabric in Pomegranate.  This chambray is lightweight and opaque so a lining isn’t necessary, it has full bodied drape, and its structure reminds me of shirting or a heavier weight cotton lawn.  I probably would not want to use it for a boxy type top unless I wanted to highlight the boxiness, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use it in other non-apparel projects, like in a quilt or the lining of a handbag.  When sewing I found it best to increase the pressure of my presser foot, increase my thread tension, and I used a size 70/10 universal needle (I found the 80/12 needle left slightly visible holes).

Like many of us making our own clothing as part of the slow fashion movement, I’m always so satisfied when I’ve been able to replace a staple garment with one that I’ve made.  It makes it so much more doable when I’m able to find the fabric I need so easily too (wink, wink, thanks Cali!).  So tell me, what is your favorite apparel fabric to sew with?

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